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How can I efficiently set up remote access to the live Quickbooks company file from outside the office?

Posted on 2011-03-21
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I've got an office network with a Microsoft Small Business Server 2003.  The Quickbooks 2008 database server is installed on the server and the clients on the LAN can access it with no problems.  We've got two owners and CPA that need to be able to access the live company file from outside the office.  Currently, the are remoting into one of the client computers in the office and running Quickbooks on that computer.  Sadly, this way is MUCH faster than opening a VPN and accessing the company file over that.

Now the problem with accessing the company file this way is that it ties up one of the office computers, so they can only access the files in the evening when the offices are closed.  They really need to be able to access the file anytime, especially during the day.

As a note, I tried a while back to run a virtual desktop on the server to remote into using both Microsoft Virtual PC and Oracle VM Virtualbox.  However, I couldn't figure out how to get either to run even when I wasn't logged in.  

There has to be a way to access the data from outside the office that isn't too slow to be able to work on.

Please help!

Thanks,
Shane
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Question by:shaneh426
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Assisted Solution

by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 100 total points
ID: 35185049
Quickbooks data files are not WAN friendly *at all.* there is no reasonable way to access the data file remotely, unfortunately. Your current solution, or a variant of, is the correct option. You have a few choices:

1) You can dedicate a machine to remote access with the appropriate OS license. For this type of work, a $300 headless machine running XP/Vista/Win7 sitting in the server area would work great.

2) For true simultaneous multi-user access, you could set up a RDS server. Then you can either have the user log into the RDS server or publish Quickbooks as a RemoteApp. This requires a server and RDS CALs, but would keep the data access local and only the screen broadcast over the WAN, would allow efficient use of Quickbooks licenses, and allow multiple users to access the system remotely any time during the day, unlike RWW.

3) You can run a virtual instance of an OS on another machine (as you tried, but using the wrong products.) Virtual PC and virtualbox are end-user virtualization tools, not meant for server use. You'd want to look at VMWare or Hyper-V. Both very good options, but would require some infrastructure changes that may make a fast switch prohibitively expensive in trainining, adjustment and the learning curve of these products.

-Cliff
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Accepted Solution

by:
Boyd (HiTechCoach) Trimmell, Microsoft Access MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 35185077
Shane, the way all my clients and my office handle this is to use a Terminal Server. Multiple user can log onto the Terminal Server at the same time.

If you do not want to set up a dedicated terminal server then you can share one of the desktops. What? Yes it is possible for multiple people to log onto the same desktop.

Here is one option provider:  2X (click Here)



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Expert Comment

by:aevegan
ID: 35185307
Depending on the line speed and the size of the QB database, you may be able to access it remotely using VPN.  Although mostly the file size becomes prohibitive and people use the routes desrcibed by the others above.  Intuit has a pretty good presentation of QB online now, depending on the office situation, it may be worth looking into.  It's no different than any other SaaS and you don't have to worry about data protection, accessibility, or upgrades.
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Author Comment

by:shaneh426
ID: 35185456
Yeah, I suspected as much.  I was just hoping that maybe some one would have a magical solution that I hadn't come up with.  Thanks for everyone's input.  I'm going to give the virtualization another try and check out 2x.  I'll respond with the results and close the question in a day or two.
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Author Closing Comment

by:shaneh426
ID: 35386802
2x and a spare computer to remote into are my options.  I still have not been successful implementing 2x but I believe it will work well.  Thanks everyone.  Sorry for not closing sooner.
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